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Top 10 Furnishings for First-Time Buyers

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Are you setting up your first home? If you don't know what you'll really need, read our list of Top Picks for first-time furniture buyers.

1. A Bed to Last a Lifetime

Photo courtesy of Pacific Coast Feather Company
You'll spend about 1/3 of every day in bed, so you should one that's comfortable and well constructed. Choose the best quality one you can afford. After all, you'll probably have it for 10 years or more. And keep in mind that the most expensive bed might not be the best bed. If you can't invest in a great bed right away, buy an air bed for a short time. It will go into your guest room later. When you're shopping for a bed, think about the proper size, firmness, and surface.

Read more about Beds.

2. A Table to Eat On

Most dining tables are round or rectangular, but you might start out with a square or round that extends to seat more. With leaves installed, your table might stretch through a doorway. Before you invest in a table, you might get a plywood tabletop on top of a sturdy base and cover it with a decorative floor-length tablecloth.

Read about Buying a Dining Table.

3. Chairs for Dining

Photo courtesy of Beasley & Henley
Choose your dining chairs to add beauty and color to your dining area. They should be comfortable enough so that you can sit for a long dinner and visit with friends. Wooden chairs are inexpensive, but upholstered chairs would be more comfortable. You can always put a slipcover over an upholstered chair to change the look for seasonal touches. Arm chairs are luxurious and can be moved into the living area when you need extra seating.

Read more about Dining Rooms.

4. A Comfortable Sofa

Sofas come in many shapes, styles, fabrics, and costs. Select the best one you can afford. Next to a bed, it will be your most important upholstered piece. Don't settle for anything less than a solid hardwood frame and 8-way hand-tied springs and attractive, durable fabric. Loose-backed cushions look casual while tight-backed sofas require less maintenance. You won't have to keep adjusting and straightening the pillows. You'll have to select length, arm shape, skirt or no skirt, how many cushions, plain or patterned fabric, down or synthetic cushions.

Read about Living Rooms.

5. A Chest of Drawers

A chest of drawers is useful in a bathroom for supplies and linens, a bedroom for clothes, a living room for games, CDs, books, or office supplies, or in a hallway or entry for scarves, gloves, and hats. Select a piece that's both classic and versatile.

Read more about Chests of Drawers.

6. A Versatile Armoire

There's no piece of furniture like an armoire when you need to organize clothes, linens, store things, or hide a television. It's one of the most versatile pieces of furniture than you can buy and it can add beauty and provide storage in almost any room of the house.

Read more about Versatile Armoires.

7. Side Tables and Nesting Tables

You can often collect interesting side tables at estate sales. Or you can invest in new pieces. They can be moved around the room for glasses and eating or for magazines and books. A set of small tables can serve as a coffee table. A small table is useful next to a bed. Nesting tables can be collected to save space and spread out when needed. Choose wood, metal, or glass-topped tables for interest.

Read about Coffee Tables.

8. An Ottoman or Foot Stool

Photo courtesy of Harden
An ottoman is an upholstered stool, either small or large. They serve as a wonderful footrest but can also be used as a coffee table. Buy a pair and use them together or apart or buy one and place a large tray on top. Since you'll be putting your feet on an ottoman, choose a sturdy fabric or leather for the cover.

See more Ottomans.

9. Lighting and Lamps

Small older homes often have harsh overhead lighting. Install dimmers on all the wall switches. Place floor lamps or table lamps near seating. Pairs of lamps are nice for pairs of tables. Wall-mounted lamps are great beside beds. Choose lamp shade of sheer fabric for more light or of metal to focus the light up or down. Overhead track lighting and can lights might require professional installation. Be sure you buy a supply of the bulbs you'll need.

Read about Updating Lighting and Track Lighting.

10. A Guest Bed

Photo courtesy of Aerobed
For guests, there are several of solutions beside having them sleep on cushions on the floor. A sofa bed in the living room or family room can provide comfortable seating and reasonably comfortable sleeping. Be sure to get a good quality mattress. If you need extra sleeping space, think about a good quality air bed. They inflate when needed and deflate quickly.

Read more about inflatable Aerobeds.

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